Review – Saul Blease – The Great War – by Jez Denton

The Great War of 1914 to 1918 has been, for many artistes, a rich vein of material, inspiring songs that detail the heroism, suffering, sacrifice and fear that all soldiers must have felt and experienced in those Flanders fields of mayhem, chaos, death and destruction. The war itself is beyond the comprehension of most of us, making the creation of any piece of art, I’d imagine, one of the most difficult tasks to do, ensuring that true and proper record is made. It can only be expected that any work needs to be a labour, work that needs the fullest detail to be sought. The work needs to be exhaustive in it’s research, it’s execution and it’s intentions. And it is work that will be held to the highest of standards by people who will have factual, historical and emotional attachment to this most emotive of subjects.

What cannot be denied is that Bristol multi-instrumentalist, Saul Blease, has undoubtedly set out to create apiece of music that does pay that fitting tribute. But this reviewer is one of those people who will set the high standards, being, as I am, someone with a deep interest in the  history of the Great War and that, I’m afraid has coloured my view of this album. For me, it doesn’t reach the standards I expect as a whole.

On my first listen I was intrigued by what I was hearing. I found the percussion in particular emotive, reminiscent as it was, on occasions, of machine gun fire. There were heavy parts that felt like a bombardment going on, with the impression being of being a soldier sat in a trench waiting for battle to start. And then the music would quieten, with lilting piano pieces perhaps reflective of the quiet before the storm. But through out this, there was this little nagging thought in the back of my mind, something that wasn’t sitting quite right, something that was jarring on my knowledge of the Great War itself. Another listen back only served to strengthen that thought, a thought that needed corroboration from a source with more knowledge than mine.

And it is thanks to Martin Hutchinson that he, on behalf of Bad Elephant Music, allowed me to share this album with a friend who is both a fan of progressive music but also an experienced Great War battlefield historian. The files were sent without comment, with the reply coming back that confirmed what I thought. The problem with this album comes lyrically; the historical inaccuracies that grated on me were only magnified with particular glaring errors being descriptions around the battle at Mons referring to trenches, barbed wire and mud -this never happened until a long time after this battle with the army at Mons in full retreat in open warfare, the trench warfare occurred sometime later once a stalemate was reached.

Now I am fully prepared for this review to be slated for not allowing a bit of artistic licence, for it to be said does it really matter? To which my justification is that, yes it does for two main reasons. Firstly, as I explained in my opening, this subject is so very important that it has to be right, there is an obligation on the artist, when taking on such a subject, to be absolutely true to those who experienced. On its own there could be an element of allowance, but the second issue I have with this album is the reliance on cliché; for both of us involved in this review the lyrics felt very much like a rushed and lazily written history essay. With reference to ‘brass hats’, ‘do or die’ and ‘dying for England’ this was very much in the stereotypical viewpoint of the First World War that was trotted out in 1960’s and 70’s school class rooms and perpetuated by Blackadder and far less worthy than the war poetry of the Wilfred Owens and Seigfreid Sassoons, for instance, whose voices are a much more genuine and authentic chronicle of this war.

Take this album as just a piece of work and there is plenty to enjoy, least not the quality of the musicianship. However, if you are a student of, interested in or, indeed, seeking to extend your knowledge of the Great War this is, unfortunately, an album that will infuriate, annoy and perhaps even, anger you. And in this conclusion I feel for Saul Blease as I’m sure he has spent many valuable hours trying to create a fitting tribute and chronicle of the Great War; unfortunately, for this reviewer he has only succeeded in pandering to popular perception rather than achieving a better researched reality.

Released 11th November 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

 

Review – Anathema – Internal Landscapes – 2008 -2018 – by Jez Denton

The compilation career retrospective is an unusual beast, filling many different roles for many different types of fans. To the die-hard fan it serves a purpose of giving an insight into the work the artist believes most in, what they are proudest of. To others its an easy to go to listen of a favourite band; great for reminding them of albums to immerse into later. And then for others, it serves as a great introduction into a band, and maybe inspiring them to delve deeper into a catalogue.

And for ‘Internal Landscapes’, the retrospective of the last ten years by Liverpool band, Anathema, I fall into the latter category having never really listened to the band myself. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why this is; Anathema are a band that a lot of people whose taste in music I admire and trust rate very highly indeed. So when I saw that the guys on the Big Big Train forum were making some noise about this release, well the opportunity to dive in was hard to resist.

And so, thanks to Martin Hutchinson, my Anathema cherry has well and truly been popped. And I’m glad it has been, with this compilation of music from their latter career from 2008 to the present day, including releases from the albums ‘We’re Here Because We’re Here’, ‘Weather Systems’, ‘Distant Satellites’ and ‘The Optimist’, being one that has whetted my appetite for more from this band.

What I particularly like about this release is that it is in no way self-indulgent; for too many bands the temptation to throw too much at a compilation is hard to resist. CD’s are filled with more and more tracks, demos and outtakes, near on whole albums in some cases. Anathema have, though, restricted themselves with just 13 tracks giving that exemplary taster of what the last ten years have been about for them. Leaving someone like me, the new introductee, wanting more; a desire that can only be sated by diving into those albums this release supports, and for the already devoted, well I can only see them inspired to revisit those favourite pieces.

There is lots to enjoy about this album and the music of Anathema. Lyrically I found it sometimes a little clichéd, though not to the detriment of the whole enjoyment (but then I am always looking for lyrics to reach some pretty exacting standards). But, the real highlight for me is the music, the harmony between instruments and voices with the real star, for me, being the beautiful piano pieces that underpin the majority of the work produced here. The whole feeling is one of great subtlety, light and shade and beautiful melody and one that will inspire me to find more out about Anathema.

Released 26th October 2018

Order the album from burning shed here

Review – Viriditas – Red Mars – by Progradar

This hour long journey of dynamic and melodic music was inspired by the great sci-fi writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s book of the same name. ‘Red Mars’ is loosely based on the adventures of the characters in the book, and the myriad of trials they face as they ultimately seek independence from their corporate overlords back on Earth.

Principal songwriter Mike Bridge says about the album “Red Mars started out as a collection of instrumental tunes written for a four piece still centred around events from Robinson’s book, but I was so inspired to further connect them up that I began extending the tunes and writing lyrics. There are moments of darkness and wonder alike as characters secretly share their feelings with the listener amid the turmoil of the events going on on Mars.”

The style of music has inspirations from not only the classic progressive acts that are obvious to a seasoned listener (Genesis, Magma and The Flower Kings to name a few), but more broadly from folky artists such as Loreena McKennit and the more traditional hard rock style of Magnum.

Well that press release has certainly set the bar high. My good friend Leo Koperdraat of Fractal Mirror pointed Viriditas my may and the rest, as they say, is history…

You can approach this album happy in the knowledge that you don’t have to have read the book that it is based on to thoroughly enjoy what is an involving and baroque musical adventure.

The three vocalists, Mike Waters, Julie Kvaerndrup and Hannah Bridge introduce a dramatic and theatrical feel that envelops everything from the opening title track Red Mars. The music is incredibly cinematic in scope and delivery, giving a real rock opera vibe. Listening to The Killing and Ares, fans of Bent Knee and Circuline will understand exactly where I’m coming from when I say it is progressive in the true sense of the word with Guitarists David Stanton and Thomas Williams adding proper pomp and circumstance to Khalia and Blood On The Airwaves and also a confidence that is well deserved.

Yes, there’s classic prog influences but the hard rocking guitars and driving rhythm section definitely add some hard rock kudos to the whole album. Mike Bridge’s stylish bass playing and John Wills dynamic drums power everything along with a high energy tempo that is really infectious, especially on the epic primeval force that is the twenty-minute prog-fest of We See RedThis is a song that will really put a smile on your face, the playing is tight and precise but there’s also a real high voltage intensity and vitality that runs throughout.

The album comes to a close with the mysterious tones of Beyond The Reach Of Fools, a track that could have come from a David Bowie led Genesis and Flower Kings collaboration (just stay with me, it would work, honest!). There’s some might fine guitar work and a spaced out, chilled and almost psychedelic edginess to the song and it just works brilliantly.

What a thoroughly enjoyable nostalgic sci-fi blast that was, an album that wears its heart on its sleeve and a group of musicians that fit together perfectly. The best thing about it is that Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a trilogy so you know there’s got to be two more instalments coming our way and I can’t wait!

Released 23rd August 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

 

 

 

Review – Dean Watson – Track of Days – by Progradar

Dean Watson is a multi-instrumentalist from Toronto in Canada and, until he reached out to me, I have to confess that I had not heard any of his music before.

I am now exceedingly grateful that he did!

‘Track of Days’ is Dean’s fifth album of prog-fusion music and contains the 51 minute epic title track. To be fair apart from the short introductory track Updown Waltz, the whole album is the title track.

And what a track it is, sumptuous progressive rock fused with some extremely stylish jazz, a complete instrumental tour-de-force that takes you on a wonderfully involving musical journey with nods to the likes of Keith EmersonHappy The Man, Pat Metheny, UK, Bruford, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant and a whole gamut of others.

All instruments, programming, writing, mixing and mastering are done by Dean and he is an incredibly talented individual. It’s often said that you should listen to an album in one sitting and with ‘Track of Days’, that is a must, it is meant to be treated as one long piece and you will get the most from it if you do follow that advice.

It flows and segues from one act to the next, the musical ingenuity and complexity fusing and melding to create an intoxicating musical tapestry. For me it is the keyboards and synthesisers that are Dean’s piece-de-resistance and the comparisons with Emerson are earned. They come alive in his hands and give an energy and life force to the music that gives it a vibrancy all of its own.

The best compliment I can give to an album new to me is if I immediately press play again as soon as I have listened to it for the first time and with this album I did that not once but at least three times, it really is that good.

I’ll certainly be seeing where this accomplished musician goes next, with inventiveness like this then the sky is surely the limit!

Released 8th September 2018.

Order the album from bandcamp here

Chasing the monkey… An Exclusive Track-by-Track Guide of Make Me Young, etc. by Michael Woodman of Thumpermonkey

In a Progradar exclusive, Michael Woodman, the vocalist of Thumpermonkey, has written this track by track guide of the band’s new, full length, album – ‘Make Me Young, etc.’

1) Veldt:

This was written ages ago – in about 2010.  It was one of those songs that just sort of popped out complete, but then stayed in demo form for ages until we decided we had a release that the song would fit with. It’s a song about using other people to help push you out of a preoccupation with negativity. It’s about relying on somebody to point out that the things you find toxic or shameful about yourself aren’t really that big a deal. It’s a ‘note to self’.

2) Cranefly:

I once tried to stay awake in an attempt to reset my body clock after flying back from getting married in New York – so I occupied myself by writing riffs. When I woke up, the verse for this song had appeared on my hard drive, though I have no recollection of writing it. Unsurprisingly, I ended up with a song, in part, about insomnia. Hearing the verses now, still makes me think about that state of not being in touch with reality when I’m really sleep deprived.

3) Figstorm:

Another very old piece of music – Rael wrote the piano part years ago – it was just waiting to find a home with this album. It’s about the disorientation experienced when crossing the boundary between fidelity and infidelity in a relationship. There’s even a paraphrased bit of Alan Bate’s monologue in ‘Women in Love’ for good measure.

4) Buttersun:

There’s a definition I read of ‘liminality’ that I really liked – the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of ‘rituals’ when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. Veldt is about crossing from self-loathing to self-acceptance. Cranefly is the boundary between sleep and wakefulness. Figstorm is fidelity and infidelity. To take this even a stage further, ‘Buttersun’ is a threshold in the middle of the album – the split between songs about internal things and external things.

5) Deckchair for Your Ghost:

This song started life referencing a nightmare I had about trying to hide a body underneath a tree in our front garden, but then it became a vehicle for a character – one who has just been cursed with the knowledge of an impending extinction level event. I had an email from a fan in about 2012 who had clearly been reading some of the nonsense I post about Aztec theology, and he seemed pretty keen on the idea that the world was going to end. I’m sure it was all meant in humor. I didn’t hear from him again.

6) Make Me Young, etc:

The title of the song is the last line of dialogue delivered by Kilgore Trout in ‘Breakfast of Champions’. It’s what he says to Kurt Vonnegut, (who has entered his own novel as a character), purely for the purposes of letting Kilgore Trout know that he isn’t real. This is a song about the end of the world.

7) Tempe Terra:

A mournful post-human coda. If any humans do escape earth and colonise Mars to start afresh, there’s always the fear that they’ll bring all their awful conceptual baggage with them and make a mess of Earth Mk2 as well.

The album was released on 26/10/18 and you can order a copy here:

Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young, etc.

Artwork and photography by Ashley Jones.

FOLLOW THE BAND
Website: http://thumpermonkey.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thumpermonkeyband/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thumpermonkey_
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Thumpermonkey
Bandcamp: https://thumpermonkey.bandcamp.com
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6uPhRxSHY9UWiyuImpE8e9

Review – Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young, etc. – by James R. Turner

‘Make Me Young, etc.’ is Thumpermonkey’s  first full length release for a while, the elusive and eclectic quartet announced their musical return last year with the stonking ‘Electricity EP’ (check out the review at the link at the end) and since then they have performed a barnstorming set at this years Eppyfest in Cheltenham (where their unique brand of music went down a storm), mixing their older material and new stuff created a vibrant and room rocking kind of set.

I mention Eppyfest because it was all thanks to Ian Fairholm that I saw them back in 2014 in Stroud, where their inventive and complex musical prowess, their emotive and powerful set and their sheer innate musicianship drew me in. Off I strolled at the end of the day with the two CDs on offer, 2010’s ‘We Bake Our Bread Beneath her Holy Fire’ and 2012’s ‘Sleep Furiously’.

Both albums are as eclectic and eccentric as the band are live and I am fully aware that the kind of sonic origami that Thumpermonkey creates is very much a marmite sound, you either love it and enjoy them or it passes you by. That is fine, not everyone likes the same thing, and I wouldn’t expect you to change your mind only 200 words into this review.

However, as a reviewer who gets quite a lot of stuff sent to me from various places to listen to, I would rather receive one album like this than half a dozen generic middle of the road, let’s make an album that sounds like 1974 Yes or 1976 Genesis because we’re prog and it’s what we do, if I want Yes circa ’74, I will go put ‘Relayer’ on.

This isn’t the sort of record that you can put on in the background. Very much like their live show, Thumpermonkey request you pay attention, and from the get-go, the opening salvo of Veldt, they grab the attention, and pull you right in.

The overriding theme of the album is an impending apocalypse (in this instance based around an asteroid hitting the planet), which, based on the way things are going in the wider world, may not be far off the mark, particularly when we seem to have world leaders who think that Threads was a manifesto and not a warning.

This flows throughout the music here, and the four piece manage to create some truly expansive widescreen sounds, with the beautiful interlude of Buttersun fitting between two wonderfully intense pieces of music, Figstorm and the intense and brooding Deckchair for Your Ghost.

The way the Michael Woodman’s vocals soar and glide through the music is a joy to behold, and they are treated as much as an instrument as his powerful guitar work, mix in Rael Jones fluid keyboard and guitar work, add the drumming powerhouse that is Ben Wren (who can flit between the soft and the heavy at the drop of a (hi) hat) and Sam Warren’s bass, that is as much of a lead instrument as Woodman’s guitar, then you have one of the most inventive musical quartets around at the moment, fitting into that area of music that is occupied by bands like Knifeworld or The Fierce and the DeadThumpermonkey are very much their own musical genre.

The title track builds and climbs to it’s crescendo, where the mantra ‘Take this useless sadness and throw it away’ acts not just as the climactic coda, but also an instruction, a life hack if you will, something that resonates with you long after the song has faded.

They mix widescreen cinemascope sounds, with big riffs, piano sound to die for, and an overarching concept that never feels forced or shoehorned into.

Very much like the best films and plays, the narrative drives and unfolds across these 7 tracks and it is an album that rewards, nay demands, repeat listening (luckily, I’ve been enjoying it on the commute to work through my headphones, so I am there, immersed in their world and sound).

This year has seen a strong bunch of albums from artists like Regal Worm or The Tangent, who have looked at musical boundaries and decided to ignore all of them, and this is one of those albums.

It sounds like nothing else out there, other than Thumpermonkey, and it’s a sign of how right this album is that now, as us reviewers are starting to think arbitrarily about those pesky ‘best of’ lists that people like so much, that I can say for a fact that Thumpermonkey, with the ‘Make me Young, etc’ have released one of the best albums of 2018, and it was well worth the wait.

Released 26th October 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

Artwork and photography by Ashley Jones.

Read James’ review of the ‘Electricity’ EP here:

Review – Thumpermonkey – Electricity – by James R Turner

 

Steve Hackett Announces Release of New Studio Album – At The Edge of Light

Following the tremendous success of 2017’s The Night Siren (charted at #22 in Germany, #28 in the UK), legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett announces the release of his new studio album At The Edge Of Light on the 25th January 2019. The album which features ten songs, sees Steve unite a vast amount of styles ranging from guitar driven rock to epic orchestration, from world music to the reflective and atmospheric all brought together in Steve Hackett’s unique style.

Steve says: “In these dangerous times, deep shadows feel even sharper than usual and we find ourselves standing at the edge of light… The contrast between dark and light weaves its way throughout the album in many ways, from the sense of good fighting evil through to the interplay of dark and light opposites magically combining in cultures, including the heartbeat of India and primal tribal rhythms. Ultimately, this album embraces the need for all musical forms and cultures to connect and celebrate the wonder of unity in this divided world.”

At The Edge Of Light is released in a number of formats including a Mediabook CD plus extra DVD with 5.1 surround sound mix & behind the scenes documentary, double vinyl LP + CD, Jewel case CD and digital album.

Steve Hackett has established himself as one of Rock music’s finest and recognisable guitarists through his time with the legendary Genesis who he joined in 1971 and a solo career following his departure from Genesis in 1977 and is a hugely influential guitarist particularly in the Progressive Rock genre. At The Edge Of Light will be Hackett’s 26th studio album in a solo career that began in 1975 with the release of his debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte.

At The Edge Of Light was mainly recorded in Steve’s own studio but also around the world. The album features international artists, including Durga and Loreley of Pink Floyd vocal fame with drummers Nick D’Virgilio and Simon Phillips from USA, Sheema on sitar from India, Icelandic drummer/percussionist Gulli Briem, tar player Malik Mansurov and Swedish bass player Jonas Reingold… This album also features Paul Stillwell on didgeridoo, Rob Townsend on sax, bass clarinet and duduk, Amanda Lehmann on vocals, John Hackett on flute, drummer Gary O’Toole, Roger King and Ben Fenner on keyboards, Dick Driver on double bass, violinist and viola player Christine Townsend… All magically honed and engineered by Roger King.

Tracklist:
1. Fallen Walls And Pedestals
2. Beasts In Our Time
3. Under The Eye Of The Sun
4. Underground Railroad
5. Those Golden Wings
6. Shadow And Flame
7. Hungry Years
8. Descent
9. Conflict
10. Peace

The album is released shortly before Steve performs as special guest on the Cruise To The Edge in February 2019 and the On The Blue cruise featuring Justin Hayward, also in February.

Hackett recently played a series of Genesis Revisited shows with Orchestra and will perform two UK dates with acoustic sets in early December before touring Europe in April/May 2019 and has just announced a UK tour in November 2019 with a much anticipated “Selling England By The Pound & Spectral Mornings & Album Highlights” set.

NOVEMBER 2019 UK TOUR DATES

 

Sat 02                   Aylesbury Waterside
Sun 03                  Folkestone Leas Cliff Hall
Tue 05                  Sheffield City Hall
Wed 06                Cambridge Corn Exchange
Fri 08                    Leicester De Montfort Hall
Sat 09                   Cardiff St. David’s Hall
Mon 11                Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue 12                  Brighton Dome
Wed 13                Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri 15                    Salisbury City Hall
Sat 16                   Reading Hexagon
Mon 18                Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tue 19                  York Barbican
Wed 20                Bath Forum
Fri 22                    Halifax Victoria Theatre
Sat 23                  Gateshead The Sage
Mon 25                Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tue 26                  Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Wed 27                Southend Cliffs Pavilion
Fri 29                    London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo
 
Tickets available from https://myticket.co.uk/ and venue box offices.
Press photo by Tina Korhonen

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES IN EUROPE & THE UK FOR FEBRUARY & MARCH 2019

The Pineapple Thief have just returned from the first leg of their Dissolution tour where they enthralled audiences across Europe and the UK. Including many sold out shows and their biggest show to date at London’s prestigious O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The band are now ready to announce new dates for 2019.

Frontman Bruce Soord states “Our first Dissolution tour went so well, and we had such a great time so we’ve decided to do it again. This time visiting some of the cities we couldn’t make the first time around. I know there are a lot of people disappointed we are not coming to their neck of the woods, but we hear you all and are definitely working on it!”

The Pineapple Thief will once again be joined by now full-time member Gavin Harrison on all dates.

21.02 Firenze (Italy) – Viper

22.02 Roma (Italy) – Largo Venue

23-02 Milano (Italy) – Santeria Social Club 

24.02 Pratteln (Switzerland) – Z7

26.02 Stuttgart (Germany) – LKA – Longhorn

27.02 Frankfurt (Germany) – Batschkapp

28.02 Strasburg (France) – La Laiterie

1.03 Zoetermeer (Holland) – Boerderij

2.03 Hamburg (Germany) – Grosse Freiheit 36

3.03 Copenhagen (Denmark) – Lille Vega

5.03 Stockholm (Sweden) – Nalen

6.03 Oslo (Norway) – John Dee

20.03 Newcastle (UK) – O2 Academy

21.03 Glasgow (UK) – Saint Luke’s

22.03 Manchester (UK) – The Ritz

23.03 Birmingham (UK) – The O2 Institute 2

24.03 Bristol (UK) – The Fleece

Support to be announced

Tickets on sale now – http://www.pineapplethief.com/

The Pineapple Thief are:

Bruce Soord – vocalist, guitarist, composer

Gavin Harrison – drums

Jon Sykes – bass

Steve Kitch – keyboards

 

Review – Tiger Moth Tales – Storytellers Part Two – by Leo Trimming

The mercurial Pete Jones seems to have an exhaustible supply of musical ideas at present. Fresh after playing with Camel on a triumphant tour of Europe ending at the Royal Albert Hall, and not long after his last fine Tiger Moth Tales album ‘The Depths of Winter’, Peter Jones returns with the second instalment of his Story Tellers project.  Based on Fairy tales and Children’s stories this is an album of pure whimsy and diverse, entertaining music. Listeners need to check in their more cynical tendencies at the door if they enter this world – this is definitely for the young, and for the young at heart. However, do not be deceived – this is not a collection of simplistic childish nursery rhymes. Pete Jones has skillfully framed these tales in a range of musical styles, intuitively threading elements of pathos, comedy and adventure through the songs.

The opening song Best Friend feels like the opening of a Fairy Tale book with gentle piano notes giving way to some orchestration and Renaissance style acoustic guitars. The catchy, positive lyrics tell of close friends in Jones’ lovely baritone, one of the finest voices in modern progressive rock music. A Hackett-esque guitar line and tinkling keys interlude segues us from this sunlit world into different territory both narratively and musically in Kai’s Journey. Chiming guitars and a tripping, dancing synth evokes the journey perfectly in musical form. An eerie almost jazzy cornet from long time friend and collaborator, Mark Wardle, presages chilling vocoder effects of a sinister snow queen, voiced rather maniacally by Pete’s usually lovely wife Kim! This is an atmospheric and evocative rock instrumental, and the influence of Steve Hackett (one of Pete Jones all time heroes) is strong on this piece, and that is a GOOD thing – indeed, there are distinct echoes of Hackett’s own exploration of children’s tales in his own classic Please Don’t Touch throughout this album.

The delightful diversity of this album is most borne on the next two songs, both masterpieces of whimsical musical imagination in their own very different ways. Toad of Toad Hall is a playful, infectious tune which bounces along mischievously as Jones’ keyboards skips joyfully and eccentrically through this musical vignette. This song also demonstrates Peter Jones’ great ability to sing and talk in distinctive character voices, and his inimitable puckish laugh is absolutely perfect for the character of  Toad of Toad Hall – this is just great fun. In contrast, not a word is spoken in the much more sedate Hundred Acre Wood, but so much is said in different ways. A lovely ambling clarinet tune over gentle piano keys simply conjures up the image of Winnie Pooh and his friends walking in Hundred Acre Wood by instruments alone – close your eyes and you are there.

Eternity takes the album in a very different direction as Peter Jones duets on a lush ballad with his old singing partner Emma Friend whose own lovely voice complements the Mothster’s perfectly… but then he throws in a short soaring guitar solo midway through the song as the duo take flight vocally. I always felt that the fate of The Boy Who Cried Wolf was rather cruel, and it seems Peter Jones agrees as he has produced a rather sombre take on his rather dramatic tale. This more ambitious song admittedly took more time to grow on me as it is not as immediate as some of the other tracks. He uses a range of guitar tones to convey the story, moving from the fear of the wolf attack through to anguish and finally a rather mournful conclusion.

‘Story Tellers part one’ featured the comical A Kid’s Tale, which is surpassed on this instalment with the comic masterpiece of Three Little Pigs, starting with some humourous ‘false starts’. The consistently funny and witty lyrics genuinely made me laugh out loud at one point… and how often can you say that about an album! Played in intentionally childlike or music hall style this song brims with humour and funny voices – kids would love it… I certainly did!

The ghosts of Trick of the Tail / Wind and Wuthering era haunt the instrumental epic of The Palace as Hackett-like guitars  and Tony Banks-like keys thread right through the piece like a stick of Genesis Rock. Peter Jones makes no secret of his love for any era of Genesis, and the influence that legendary band has on his more ‘Prog’ like offerings is there for everyone to hear, and for many that is why they love his material. For such listeners this will be a highlight on the album and Jones’ skills as a fine guitarist and keyboard player pulls it off with aplomb. After such drama Jones soothes us with a touching tale of the Match Girl over a simple piano backing and a melancholic melodica. This song particularly show cases Peter Jones’ lovely voice, emotively singing this poignant tale.

The story book closes with swelling orchestration and electric guitar solo as The Mothster and Emma Friend briefly reprise Best Friends. You can almost see the credits rolling like the end of some Disney-esque animation… and that’s not said in a sneering manner – Disney have done some great adaptations of Fairy Tales!

This album is a real step up from ‘Story Tellers Part One’, which has not been quite as popular or as revered as other Tiger Moth Tales releases. It had some highlights such as the title song and A Kids Tale, but the rapidity in which it was recorded (there was a challenge to make an album in one month!) did mean it seemed to lack some of the depth and quality associated with his other fine albums. To be fair it was always meant as a more lightweight offering. In this second instalment there is still the sense spontaneity that Jones is looking for in this type of project, but he does it more successfully and subtly on this occasion.

‘Story Tellers Part Two’ is an entertaining album, and it does exactly what it says on the tin – it tells stories wonderfully well.  There’s laughs, tears and adventure… all played with skill and touch in a great range of different musical styles. Categorizing it is impossible, to be honest – it’s not deep or symbolic, just great fun.

If you’ve got young kids or grandchildren then get it and play them some of it (especially Three Little Pigs)… or if you feel like a kid yourself and you just need some escapism just play it to yourself –it may help you live Happily Ever After!

Released 18th October 2018

Order the album from bandcamp here

Dublin-based prog-metallers Sectile are proud to announce the launch of their new single ‘The Hunt’.

Soaring over a variety of soundscapes in just under 5 minutes, The Hunt paves the way for Sectile’s refreshed and contemporary approach to their music. The new single will undoubtedly surprise many listeners, showing Sectile’s ability to craft a unique wall of sound out of their various influences, from the classics all the way to post and prog metal.

Lyrically, The Hunt talks about isolation, despair and the feeling of being hunted by your past mistakes. The sensation is further enhanced by the single’s original artwork, created by the band’s singer Gabriel Gaba, as well as the nightmarish video, Sectile’s first, entirely produced by the band themselves.

Mixed and mastered by Irish producer Aidan Cunningham (Bailer; Overhead, the
Albatross; LNT) The Hunt was recorded in the band’s home studio, with the exception of the drums, helmed by Michael Richards at Trackmix Studio.

Almost a year separates their debut EP to the launch of The Hunt. Sectile feel now, more than ever, ready to rise higher and bring their music to wider audiences in Ireland and abroad.

Sectile are:
Gabriel Gaba – Vocals
Mark O’Reilly – Guitar
Michael Sheridan – Guitar
Cormac Hennigan – Bass
Zachary Newman – Drums